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Adoption by Christians

(Querist) 03 July 2009 This query is : Resolved 
Dear Members

Please clarify whether adoption by Christians and converted christians from other religions permissible under law? If so, what are the provisions, case law!


A V Vishal (Expert) 03 July 2009

Personal law of Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews does not recognise complete adoption. As non-Hindus do not have an enabling law to adopt a child legally, those desirous of adopting a child can only take the child in 'guardianship' under the provisions of The Guardian and Wards Act, 1890. This however does not provide to the child the same status as a child born biologically to the family. Unlike a child adopted under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 the child cannot become their own, take their name or inherit their properly by right. This Act confers only a guardian-ward relationship. This legal guardian-ward relationship exists until the child completes 21 years of age

The Kerala High Court ruled that even in the absence of any specific law recognising adoption by Christians, an adoption made by a Christian couple is valid and the child adopted is entitled to inherit the assets of the couple.
Allowing a second appeal filed by Philips Alfred Malvin, the adopted son of George Correa and Jane Correa of Thalassery, Justice D Sreedevi held that Hindu Law, Mohammaden Law and Canon Law recognised adoption. Therefore, simply because there is no separate statute providing adoption by Christians, it cannot be said that the adoption made by Correa couple is invalid. Since the adopted son gets all the rights of a natural born child, Malvin is entitled to inherit the assets of George Correa couple.

The defendants in the case (the children and grandchildren of the Correa couple) had contended that Philips Alfred Malvin had not been adopted by George Correa and that Christian Law never recognised adoption and hence the Malvin had no right over the properties ofGeorge Correa.

The Munsiff's Court, Kannur, allowed the suit filed by Malvin and passed a preliminary decree for partition. But the sub-court, Thalassery, set aside the decree and judgment and dismissed the suit, against which second appeal was filed before the High Court.

Justice Sreedevi said it was an admitted fact that the Christian Law does not prohibit adoption. The Code of Canon Law, commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America, goes to show that the Church has adopted civil law pertaining to the area in question. Therefore, adoption made by Correa couple cannot be said to be invalid. The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act provides for adoption of children by Hindu parents. An adopted child when transplanted into a family gets all the rights and relationships of a biological child. The position of an adopted child in respect of inheritance and maintenance is the same as that of a natural born child.

PALNITKAR V.V. (Expert) 03 July 2009
Thanks Mr. Vishal for your valuable contribution.
SANJAY DIXIT (Expert) 03 July 2009
Christians have no adoption laws and have to approach court under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.
Read the detailed article at-
sanjeev murthy desai (Expert) 03 July 2009
Thanks Mr. Vishal for your valuable information.

A. A. JOSE (Expert) 03 July 2009
Mr. Vishal has as usual dealt with the issue in detail and I entirely endorse the same.
Kadali RK Rao (Querist) 04 July 2009
Thank u vishal ji and sanjay ji.

But, what about recognition of adopted child by the employer of parent(s).

A V Vishal (Expert) 04 July 2009
Dear Mr Rao

When the courts are recognising the legality in adoption by christian parents, the employer is bound to accept the same, in case of non acceptance the aggrieved person may approach the court for justice. However, in this context let me once again remind you that the case law is of Kerala High court, different High courts may take different stand on the issue and I am unable to find any precedent of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in this context.
Kadali RK Rao (Querist) 14 April 2019
Thanks to all members in anticipation for any update in the legal jurisprudence.
Sandeep Naik (Expert) 13 October 2019
I read all the above interpretations of the Christian Adoption expressed by the experts. I have a Christian Couple wants to adopt a male and female babies abandoned by their husbands(perhaps the children are born out of illicit relations) These ladies are staying on the street. The parents are adopting these babies independently without taking the help of any registered agency. However, the proper application is made under the Guardians and Wards Act,1890 read with Section 41 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2006. Whether the adoption will be valid ? Experts please guide .
A. A. JOSE (Expert) 17 October 2019
Your query needs further elaboration please. You stated that "Parents" are adopting these babies......!

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